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The American Austin Bantam – A Cute Little Workhorse

  • Stanley
  • Special Delivery model at the Stanley Hardware Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio

The American Austin Bantam was a hit from the moment the first one left the assembly line. The body design for the little car was by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky for the Hayes Body Corporation, of Grand Rapids, Michigan. As Robert D. Cunningham has stated in our earlier history of the car: “The Hayes designs captured the hearts and emotions of people who loved puppies, kittens and babies. 

  • AP1       AP2      AP3
  • Full details of the little car, “Automotive Industries”, June 28, 1930

The cute little car should have been a runaway success, but it was the victim of bad timing. The company’s stock went public just nineteen days before “Black Tuesday” the day stock market crashed in 1929. You can learn the complete and interesting story behind the development and production of the little car in the four-part American Austin Bantam Story here on The Old Motor. Photo courtesy of the Benjamin Ames Photo Collection.

2 responses to “The American Austin Bantam – A Cute Little Workhorse

  1. They were a perennial favorite of circus clowns, who would pile several into a car and drive into the ring. Audiences were amazed at how many would get out. They also appeared in movies, usually comedies. I remember one scene in a Laurel & Hardy film where the car was occupied by a grossly obese woman with Hardy trying to get in beside her.

  2. The English Austin 7 was sold in Canada beginning in the early 30’s. They were cheaper than the American Austin because of Commonwealth preference and sold well enough in Vancouver that they were joined by the larger 10 and 12 hp four cylinder and 16 hp six cylinder Austins.

    In the engine illustration, note that it has only two main bearings and that the front one is a double row ball bearing and the rear one is a roller bearing. They created a noticeable rumble when the engine was running. It was said that if the engine was revved high enough, it was possible to get pistons 2 and 3 to hit the cylinder head!

    Even into the late 30’s the English Sevens had a permanently attached crank handle which produced a rattle that could be heard some distance away. How do I know? My grade 2 teacher had a 1937 Austin Seven Ruby saloon which she cranked to start – in 1952! I was fascinated by that little car and would love to have one, but at 6′ 5″ I don’t fit. 🙁


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